Authorities have reopened Interstate 4 near Walt Disney World after a brush fire ignited Friday afternoon, sending smoke across the roadway and closing it for hours.
The fire, located near International Drive and Interstate 4, was 13 acres and growing near the Orange-Osceola county line, a few miles from Disney World and the Orlando tourist district.
Operations at the Orlando-area attractions have not been affected by the blaze, but guests trying to enter and leave the parks are encountering major traffic backups.
Earlier Friday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol shut down eastbound I-4 at Osceola Parkway, which is exit 65. Troopers were diverting traffic to State Road 417. Westbound I-4 has been closed at State Road 535. Westbound traffic was being diverted onto State Road 528.
According to the FHP website, there was zero visibility on I-4, forcing the shutdown at about 3 p.m. The highway reopened about 5:30 p.m.
"Right now, you can see the fire is actively approaching I-4," said FHP spokesperson Kim Montes said during the closure. "We're looking at visibility and how close the fire comes to the roadway."
Montes said although the fire itself wasn't the main concern, the smoke was still a huge safety issue.
" We've got to look and see that we've got a clear path through this stretch and make sure drivers have a safe route to drive through," Montes said. "Daylight hours are not typically our problem with visibility."
Montes said the early morning hours and overnight are the main concerns for visibility and that the roads could be opened and closed again throughout the weekend as the weather changes.
Traffic congestion was also reported in Osceola County on State Road 417, as drivers tried to navigate around the road closure. The FHP suspended tolls on State Road 528 and State Road 417 during the closure.
The Division of Forestry couldn't predict how long it would take to get the fire under control.
Video from WKMG-TV's news helicopter showed flames burning near the base of a cellphone tower, where firefighters were also spotted. Flames could also be spotted along the medians butting up to I-4.
No injuries or damage to buildings were reported. FHP urges drivers to be cautious on the road in the smoky conditions.